Tuesday, 30 April 2013

DIY Arduino-controlled Egg-drawing robot

For something completely different, consider making a device that can draw patterns on an egg. Although the concept isn't new, Arduino forum member "Msquare" has demonstrated their own version using a stepper motor, a servo or two and some basic hardware. Once the motor control and servos have been aligned properly some interesting effects can be created on the surface of the egg with a felt-tip pen controlled by the device, for example:

 

And doing your own is much cheaper than a commercial kit. So for more information and the sketch, log in to the Arduino forum. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

If you're new to Arduino, the first step is a solid board for your projects - our Freetronics Eleven - the Arduino-Uno compatible with low-profile USB socket, onboard prototyping space and easy to view LEDs:

Control Epson M190 receipt printers with Arduino

Over time thermal receipt printers have become inexpensive and very easy to work with in Arduino-based projects - however the properties of thermal paper exclude their use when a permanent printed record is required. In these cases dot-matrix printers will live on, and with the library by Steven Pearson you can easily use an Epson M-190 printer mechanism (found in receipt printers) with an Arduino. You can print text and graphics, which is demonstrated in the following video:

 

Listening to that printer takes me on a trip down memory lane, however click here to find out how it's done. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

When connecting external devices for your Arduino, such as the printerEpson  mentioned above, you'll need a protoshield to mount the external circuitry. In doing so, consider our range of ProtoShields. From the tiny LeoStick to the Mega range, we offer a complete range for you to work with.

Motorise your window blinds with Arduino

 It can be quite expensive to order custom motorised window blinds - however with an Arduino, motors and some time you can do it yourself. With the use of a simple motor, control circuitry and the right sketch you can make your own blind controls that are sensitive to light, temperature or operate to a schedule. To get started, consider the tutorial published by Instructables user "cgmalantonio" wwho used a motor from an old VCR, a motor shield and some hardware to hold it all together. It's a simple method but gets you started on the hardware side of things:

 

Once you have the motor working effectively, so much more can be done. Visit theInstructable to get started. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you found the project above interesting - but not sure how to start with Arduino - then the best way to learn is with our Experimenter's Kit for Arduino:

The package includes a wide variety of parts, sensors and modules including: a servo motor, lights, buttons, switches, sound, sensors, breadboard, wires and more. Furthermore a Freetronics Eleven Arduino-compatible board is included to make this an extensive hobby experimenter, inventor and starter kit. However we don't leave you alone to figure it all out, included is a great project and instruction booklet, plus access to a supporting web page and software examples. In other words - this is everything you need to get started for a fun range of electronics and Arduino related projects! 

So to get started or for more information and to order, check out the product page. 

Control many LEDs with few I/O pins via Charlieplexing

If there's one thing people enjoy it's using lots of LEDs for data displays, games and other general blinky fun. However the more LEDs the use the more I/O pins you'll need - unless you use a method called "Charlieplexing". A term coined Charlie Allen at Maxim Integrated (where the MAX7219 comes from), it uses the concept that current only flows in one direction to illuminate an LED, and thus with some directional current control you can control two or more LEDS with relatively few I/O pins - for example, six LEDs only require three pins:

This has been demonstrated very well by "Andy" who explains the method of connecting one or more LEDs for this process. Then with some simple I/O functions you're in business - his examples work around the ATmega328 that's the heart of Arduino boards and alsoavailable separately. To get started, visit his blog. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

If you want to control 512 LEDs at once - have you considered using a Freetronics Dot Matrix Display? Available in a variety of colours, they consist of a 32 by 16 matrix of LEDs. Included with the DMD is a cable to directly connect with an Arduino-compatible board, and at low brightness (which is still fine to read indoors) you can power one DMD from the Arduino. However by connecting 5V at 2.5A for each board they operate at a brightness which is visible anywhere. Furthermore you can daisy-chain (with the included cable) six or more displays for great effects. So for more information head over to the DMD pages today.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Local browser control of an Arduino with "Webduino"

If you're prototyping with Arduino-controlled hardware and get frustrated or don't have much time to keep writing test sketches to test the hardware, Webduino might be the answer. Developed by Cooper Maa, it allows simple control of the I/O pins including PWM, input and output modes via a web browser. The Arduino needs to run the firmata sketch, and can update around 50 ms intervals. You'll also need to run Node, NPM and CoffeeScript on the host PC, however the resulting interface is worth it, for example:


For more information and code, check out the project githubAnd for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're new to Arduino, the first step is a solid board for your projects - our Freetronics Eleven - the Arduino-Uno compatible with low-profile USB socket, onboard prototyping space and easy to view LEDs:

Build an Arduino-powered CyberGlove

For a new an interesting method of receiving user input, this "CyberGlove" by Instructables user 'aloishis89'. Although the concept may seem complex, the construction is surprisingly easy. By using fitting analogue joysticks near the knuckles on the glove, and then wire to the fingertips back to the joysticks, you can easily measure one or two directions of movement with an Arduino's analogue input. That data can then be fed back to a PC for control via processing, or even mouse/keyboard emulation with an Arduino Leonardo or compatible boards

And the whole thing could be done for less than $100... so click here to get started. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

This project is the ideal candidate for our LeoStick - the Arduino Leonardo-compatible board that's cheaper and smaller than the original:

 Apart from being one of the smallest Arduino-compatibles on the market with USB, it also has an onboard RGB LED and piezo which can be used a knock sensor and various tune and sound effects. Plus you can add extra circuitry with the matching protostick! For more information and to order, click here.

Learn piano with the help of Arduino

Learning to play the piano can be easy for some, difficult for others. However with the device described by Instructables user "tcone", you'll not only get started with the piano but also make a fascinating project. It comprises of a long acrylic strip which is placed over and to the rear of the piano keys - that holds an LED over each key. Then the order and timing of each required key press is illustrated via an LED controlled by the Arduino. There's 88 LEDs so the use of the MAX7219 LED display driver is used, which saves a lot of trouble. Review the following video for a demonstration of the system:

 

Fantastic. With a little work you could also adapt this to organs or harpsichords. For complete instructions on making your own, visit the project page. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you found the project above interesting - but not sure how to start with Arduino - then the best way to learn is with our Experimenter's Kit for Arduino:

The package includes a wide variety of parts, sensors and modules including: a servo motor, lights, buttons, switches, sound, sensors, breadboard, wires and more. Furthermore a Freetronics Eleven Arduino-compatible board is included to make this an extensive hobby experimenter, inventor and starter kit. However we don't leave you alone to figure it all out, included is a great project and instruction booklet, plus access to a supporting web page and software examples. In other words - this is everything you need to get started for a fun range of electronics and Arduino related projects! 

So to get started or for more information and to order, check out the product page. 

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Using TEMT6000 light sensor modules with mbed

Instead of using a light-dependent resistor to measure light levels with his mbed board, Alfonso Martone instead uses the much more reliable TEMT6000 light sensor module which give consistent and repeatable readings even between different units. It's incredibly easy to do so and gives you the ability to calibrate light readings against other data without worrying about the variability of the sensor. The code has been provided and it's as simple as reading an analogue input pin. 

For more information and the demonstration code, visit Alfonso's mbed notebookAnd for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.


As well as our TEMT6000 light sensor module - you can use our range of sensors, including accelerometerstemperature,humiditylightsoundknockIR temperature and more - with many more plaftforms than just Arduino. So check out our wide range of Freetronics modules today. 

Thursday, 25 April 2013

A Study in non-standard Distributed Computer Architecture with Arduino

With a topic that harks back to computing science theory at university, user "tolleyw" has described how to create Arduino-powered nodes for a Distributed optical Harvard Architecture system. With two or more of these nodes "a small distributed computer can be implemented which uses one node for sending instructions, mimicking input and the instruction set to manage it, and another node which will act as memory". 


All the required Arduino sketches and design notes are included, so if this is of interest, check out the Instructable. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're new to Arduino, the first step is a solid board for your projects - our Freetronics Eleven - the Arduino-Uno compatible with low-profile USB socket, onboard prototyping space and easy to view LEDs:

DIY Ambient monitor backlighting with Arduino

Arduino enthusiast Jake has created an interesting ambient backlighting system for his dual-monitor setup. Using software that divides the monitors up into 32 seperate areas, the data is fed to a pythong application which converts the screen display data to commands that are sent to an Arduino. This in turn then controls RGB LED strips mounted behind the monitors for the lighting effects. Although it's more of a decoratrive project, the interaction between python and Arduino is an interesting code example. View Jake's video below for a quick explanation and demonstration:

 

For the code and notes, visit the github page. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you found the project above interesting - but not sure how to start with Arduino - then the best way to learn is with our Experimenter's Kit for Arduino:

The package includes a wide variety of parts, sensors and modules including: a servo motor, lights, buttons, switches, sound, sensors, breadboard, wires and more. Furthermore a Freetronics Eleven Arduino-compatible board is included to make this an extensive hobby experimenter, inventor and starter kit. However we don't leave you alone to figure it all out, included is a great project and instruction booklet, plus access to a supporting web page and software examples. In other words - this is everything you need to get started for a fun range of electronics and Arduino related projects! 

So to get started or for more information and to order, check out the product page. 

Direct Arduino to Android data logging with a LeoStick

If you're looking for a method of capturing external data from sensors and user input into an Android application, the notes published by Australian enthusiast David Baker may be of interest. He shows that an Arduino Leonardo-compatible board such as ourLeoStick can send serial data directly to an Android device (in this case a Samsung Galaxy SIII) via a USB on-the-go cable. Currently a work in progress, however demonstration Android code has been provided. 

Definitely something to keep an eye on, so to get started, visit David's website. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

So what is a LeoStick? It's the Arduino Leonardo-compatible board that's cheaper and smaller than the original:

 Apart from being one of the smallest Arduino-compatibles on the market with USB, it also has an onboard RGB LED and piezo which can be used a knock sensor and various tune and sound effects. Plus you can add extra circuitry with the matching protostick! For more information and to order, click here.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Make your own POV globe with Arduino

Arduino enthusiast Chris Mitchell has created a fantastic persistence-of-vision device that doesn't require a lot of hand-waving - instead eight RGB LEDs are fitted to a ring that rotates at ten revolutions per second, giving the illusion of an 8 x 50 pixel LED display. Controlled by a Freetronics LeoStick the POV globe can display a variety of messages or graphical effects, as shown in the following video:

 

That's a fantastic item which looks great and you can make yourself, so review Chris'website for more information. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. Have you made something great and want to share it with the world? Post the details in our Project Showcase forum, and you could even win a prize.

So what is a LeoStick? It's the Arduino Leonardo-compatible board that's cheaper and smaller than the original:

 Apart from being one of the smallest Arduino-compatibles on the market with USB, it also has an onboard RGB LED and piezo which can be used a knock sensor and various tune and sound effects. Plus you can add extra circuitry with the matching protostick! For more information and to order, click here.

Interfacing an Arduino with MySQL via python

If you're interested in taking data from an Arduino and running it through some hard-core analysis, then a tutorial by Instructables member "mangopeach" will be of interest. They've demosntrated how to create a software link between an Arduino connected via USB to a PC and then to MySQL via python to allow data capture and analysis. The tutorial assumes some python knowledge, however code examples are provided for Arduino and python to get you started. 

Great for more permanent installations or laboratory use - and this type of interfacing holds some interesting potential, so visit the Instructable to get started. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're new to Arduino, the first step is a solid board for your projects - our Freetronics Eleven - the Arduino-Uno compatible with low-profile USB socket, onboard prototyping space and easy to view LEDs:

Liven up car interiors with Arduino and RGB LEDs

Many car enthusiasts enjoy adding extra lights or upgrading the interior bulbs to LEDs, however with the Arduino platform you can enjoy a greater level of control and detail by controlling high-powered LEDs and lighting strips. Doing so is easily done with an external power supply, an N-MOSFET for switching the higher current and a compact Arduino-compatible board such as our LeoStick. Hyundai Veloster enthusiast "Tokra" did just that, by building a system that generates various lighting effects when the car door is opened and closed, for example:

 

What a great way to liven up a car's interior - find out more at the Veolster forum. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're making a similar project and need to control large currents with your Arduino digital outputs - you'll need a MOSFET. We've got you covered with out NDRIVE: N-MOSFET driver/output module:

This high-power N-MOSFET module lets you switch high-current loads using a tiny microcontroller. Perfect for controlling that set of traffic lights mounted in your living room! Works brilliantly for automotive projects such as switching high-power 12V lights and high wattage LEDs. For more information and to order, visit the product page

Monday, 22 April 2013

Build an Arduino-controlled FM radio

Building one's own radio was often a rite of passage for many electronics enthusiasts, however in the digital age this may have passed to one side as people often start their learning with microcontrollers and of course Arduino-based projects. Nevertheless it's possible to make your own Arduino-controlled FM radio with the inexpensive Philips TEA5767 tuner IC which is available for a few dollars with a few minutes searching the Internet. This has been demonstrated by Lithuanian enthusiast Darius who explains the I2C commands for the module and an Arduino sketch for a basic radio with LCD module display, with the results as follows:

 

With the addition of a basic audio amplifier a portable solution could be built. Or with anRTC perhaps a clock radio? Visit Darius' blog to get started. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're new to Arduino, the first step is a solid board for your projects - our Freetronics Eleven - the Arduino-Uno compatible with low-profile USB socket, onboard prototyping space and easy to view LEDs:

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Build a reaction timer game with Arduino

Arduino enthusiast Petri Häkkinen was reminiscing about an older television show that used a form of reaction timer game, and reconstructed his own version based on Arduino hardware. The operation is quite simple - the user needs to press one of four randomly selected buttons within an ever-decreasing period of time. Sooner or later the time allowed will be too short or the player's reaction time won't be good enough. Furthermore the game uses distinct musical notes for each button so the game can be played just by listening. A quick demonstration follows in the video below:

 

That could be a lot of fun for children and adults alike, so to make your own find the instructions on Petri's website. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're prototyping Arduino projects on solderless breadboards, blown the MCU on your board, or making your own such as the timer game mentioned above - save time and hassle with our new ATmega328 microcontroller pre-loaded with the Arduino Uno bootloader:

It's the same one as found on our ElevenKitTen and the original Arduino Uno, plus it has a very useful pinout sticker attached to save confusion when wiring it up. So for more information and to order, click here. And we also sell the stickers!

Pseudo-hardcoding MAC addresses to EtherTen and Arduino Ethernet boards

When using two or more EtherTen boards (or other Arduino-Ethernet hardware) on the same network you need unique MAC addresses for each EtherNet device. In the past various solutions have included using random numbers within the sketch to generate a MAC, or working with the serial number from a unique 1-wire or authentication device. However a simpler (and cheaper) method has been created by Freetronics forum member "RedDogInCan". 

Their solution uses a sketch that you run once per board - it accepts a MAC address from the user via the serial terminal and writes this to the Etherten microcontroller's EEPROM. The by using the code provided, each board can then retrieve the MAC from EEPROM and pass it to the Ethernet library. 

It's a great solution to a common problem, so find out more from the forum. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

When putting together your next Internet-enabled Arduino project - save time, space and money with the Freetronics EtherTen. Apart from being fully Arduino Uno-compatible, it has onboard Ethernet, microSD socket, full USB interface (so you don't need a costly FTDI cable just to upload a sketch!) and supports optional Power-over-Ethernet.

Hacking robotic toys with Arduino

If you examine the range of motorised toys, robots and educational kits from various retailers, after a few moments it becomes obvious that modifying them for your own control methods would be much more fun than their original purpose. Especially the robotic arm kits available from electronics retailers and other sources abroad. To do so isn't that difficult at all thanks to a detailed tutorial by UK enthusiast "Lucky Larry" who has documented how to control DC motors (basic motors, not stepper motors) using a simple H-bridge ICs such as the SN754410 or L293. 

Armed (!) with this knowledge you can better control those toys, cards and other inexpensive robot items. To get started visit Larry's interesting website. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you found the project above interesting - but not sure how to start with Arduino - then the best way to learn is with our Experimenter's Kit for Arduino:

The package includes a wide variety of parts, sensors and modules including: a servo motor, lights, buttons, switches, sound, sensors, breadboard, wires and more. Furthermore a Freetronics Eleven Arduino-compatible board is included to make this an extensive hobby experimenter, inventor and starter kit. However we don't leave you alone to figure it all out, included is a great project and instruction booklet, plus access to a supporting web page and software examples. In other words - this is everything you need to get started for a fun range of electronics and Arduino related projects! 

So to get started or for more information and to order, check out the product page. 

Interact with an Arduino directly from python

If you're working with python and considering some hardware integration, you may find the following python library by Tristan Hearn of interest. His Python Arduino Command API is a light-weight Python library for communicating with Arduino microcontroller boards from a connected computer using standard serial I/O, either physically or wirelessly. It is written using a custom protocol, similar to Firmata - and allows a user to quickly prototype programs for Arduino using Python code, or to simply read, control, troubleshoot or experiment with hardware connected to an Arduino board without ever having to recompile and reload sketches to the board itself.

At the current time only digital I/O, analogue I/O and servos are supported however more functions are planned to be added in the future. You can download the library from theproject github. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're new to Arduino, the first step is a solid board for your projects - our Freetronics Eleven - the Arduino-Uno compatible with low-profile USB socket, onboard prototyping space and easy to view LEDs:

Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Freetronics Protoype "Sneak Peek"

We've been working hard on a range of additions to our product line, and in the following video by Freetronics co-founder Jonathan Oxer you can see the production samples and also learn some interesting tips relating to the process of prototyping to production manufacturing. Jonathan gives a quick look at five of our upcoming products - the USB LiPobattery charger; the USB Boost - a handy board that takes 1.2V to 4.5V in, and gives you a nicely regulated 5V out at up to 500mA; a USB to serial adaptor; our new USBasp ICSP programmer, and something we're really excited about - the new OLED module

 

We look forward to having these products available in the near future - so stay tuned via twitter and Google+, to be notified of release dates, other Freetronics news and other items of interest.

Generate Google Authenticator codes with a Freetronics LeoStick

 If you're a security-conscious user of Google products and make use of the one-time password generator app for your smartphone - this project by Fritjof Boger Engelhardtsen will be of interest. Using our tiny LeoStick Arduino-compatible board, a real-time clock IC and some handiwork - a USB OTP password generator can be made that enters the code automatically at the press of a button - for example:

 

It's simple, and it works. What a great idea - well done Fritjof. For more information and code, check out the project page. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. Have you made something great and want to share it with the world? Post the details in our Project Showcase forum, and you could even win a prize.

So what is a LeoStick? It's the Arduino Leonardo-compatible board that's cheaper and smaller than the original:

 Apart from being one of the smallest Arduino-compatibles on the market with USB, it also has an onboard RGB LED and piezo which can be used a knock sensor and various tune and sound effects. Plus you can add extra circuitry with the matching protostick! For more information and to order, click here.

Control Arduino via JavaScript and more with Noduino

For web developers looking to interact with Arduino-based hardware directly from web applications using HTML5, Socket.IO and Node.js, check out this new project by Sebastian Müller. Although still only in alpha stage, it's a promising project that's a "proof of concept for Node.js controlling external components over a dynamic web interface using HTML5 WebSockets". At the moment there's digital I/O control and reading pin status - and hopefully more in the future. There's some excellent tutorials and the whole project is published under the MIT license. 


So for more information and to get started, check out the project github. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're new to Arduino, the first step is a solid board for your projects - our Freetronics Eleven - the Arduino-Uno compatible with low-profile USB socket, onboard prototyping space and easy to view LEDs: